City level fight against climate change gains momentum

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Climate Change, Global Warming, Clean Energy, Green Energy

The C40 Mayors summit in Mexico City is a novel platform on which cities are gearing themselves up for the fight against climate change at the local level and acknowledging this fight the summit announced C40 Cities Awards.

Eleven cities were honoured today at an awards ceremony in Mexico City in different categories. The awards were sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies and BYD and were announced at the the C40 Mayors Summit, where more than 40 mayors from around the world gathered to create sustainable and liveable cities for citizens.

An expert jury panel comprised of former mayors, climate experts and others, selected ten winning urban sustainability projects based on excellence in urban planning and dedication to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving resiliency. The selected cities exemplified the best policies, projects and programmes globally, and for the first time included a category recognizing social equity.

Addis Ababa was given the award for the ‘transportation’ category for its Addis Ababa Light Rail Transit (LRT) Project that has improved the city’s public transport system and created more than 6,000 jobs. The cumulative emission reduction potential of the LRT system is forecasted at 1.8 million tCO2e by 2030.

Copenhagen was awarded for ‘Adaptation in Action’. Copenhagen is threatened by sea level rise and heavy downpours. The Cloudburst Management Plan – Project Implementation is an integrated system of green streets and pocket parks that will function as water retention areas and water basins.

Curitiba managed to clinch the award for its ‘Sustainable Communities’. Urban Agriculture in Curitiba aims to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through urban agriculture: directly through carbon sequestration in soil, biological nitrogen fixation by legumes and non-use of chemical nitrogen fertilisers; and indirectly by reducing food and waste transport distances, composting organic waste, reduction of “heat islands” and creating environmental awareness.

Kolkata excelled in the ‘Solid Waste’ category. Kolkata’s climate change risks have been exacerbated by unsanitary disposal and waste dumping. Kolkata Solid Waste Management Improvement Project has achieved 60-80% (depending on site) segregation of waste at its source, with further waste segregation occurring at transfer stations. Forward looking, the project aims to eradicate open dumping and burning of waste and to limit the concentration of methane gas generated in landfill sites.

Sydney & Melbourne won for their ‘Building Energy Efficiency’. The CitySwitch Green Office programme aims to overcome the knowledge and resource gap between building owners and tenants by prioritising the reporting of fully auditable achievements, and encourages members to adopt an energy target of between 4-Star and 6-Star on the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS). The programme has an overall target avoidance of 50,000 tonnes of new CO2e per year by its signatory businesses.

Paris won the award for its ‘Adaptation Plans & Assessments’. The Paris Adaption Strategy is aimed at tackling climate change-related challenges including heatwaves, urban heat island effect, flooding and droughts. The programme addresses other sustainability issues like air pollution and health related risks, climate refugee challenges and water scarcity. Some actions being implemented by 2020, include: a greening programme to decrease heat-related risks; help for Parisians when it’s hot; and a less vulnerable food supply.

Portland was awarded for its ‘Climate Action Plans & Inventories’. The overarching goal of Portland’s 2015 Climate Action Plan (CAP) is to deliver an integrated set of strategies by 2020 to keep Portland on a path to reduce GHG emissions 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. The proportion of citizens travelling primarily by public transport, cycling or walking is expected to rise to 50%, and the number of electric vehicles is set to increase four-fold to 8,000. The CAP aims to reduce energy use in existing buildings by 1.7% annually, resulting in an annual GHG emissions reduction of 280,000 metric tonnes in 2020.

Seoul won for ‘Social Equity & Climate Change’. The Energy Welfare Public Private Partnership (PPP) Programme aims to contribute to the city’s targets on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction while simultaneously reducing energy consumption and spending for low-income families. In 2015, Seoul financed energy retrofits for 1,295 households and aims to finance a further 1,050 households in 2016.

Shenzhen landed the award for its ‘Finance & Economic Development’. Shenzhen is one of the fastest growing cities in the world with a population of 15 million and an annual GDP growth rate of 10%. Implementing an Emissions Trading System (ETS) scheme carried many challenges, but Shenzhen has recruited 636 enterprises to partake in its ETS scheme. Green low carbon development of the city is now possible thanks to uncoupling GDP potential from GHG emissions.

Yokohama was awarded for its ‘Clean Energy’ initiatives. Yokohama Smart City Project (YSCP) strives to more effectively manage energy use and mitigate climate change through energy management systems. The city’s action plan sets the target of an 80% CO2 emissions reduction by 2050. The project is designed to engage citizens and stakeholders as a key factor of successful implementation.

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